FAQs ABPath CertLink

FAQs ABPath CertLink

Please refer to the CC Booklet of Information for policy information for ABPath CertLink and the CC Program.  Please email any specific questions to [email protected].

General Overview of ABPath CertLink (ABPCL)

What is ABPath CertLink?

ABPath CertLink (ABPCL) is a longitudinal assessment designed to support continuous learning and professional development. ABPCLhas been approved as a replacement for the once- every- 10-year high stakes exam that diplomates were previously required to take to fulfill their CC Part III Assessment of Knowledge, Judgment, and Skills requirement.

What is a longitudinal assessment?

A longitudinal assessment is designed to assess an individual’s knowledge over time. Answering questions every three months allows the assessment to be continuous, identify knowledge gaps, promote educational opportunities, and allow for remediation.

How do I use ABPCL to meet the CC Assessment Requirement?

Diplomates should:

  • Design their Assessment to best fit their knowledge and practice.
  • Complete the assigned ABPCL questions each quarter. If you miss three or more quarters in a two-year reporting period and they have not been approved as sabbaticals, your certification status will be reported as “Not participating in Continuing Certification”.
  • Use any resources available while answering a question other than another person.
  • Read the Critique after answering a question.
  • Agree to maintain a fair and secure assessment process.
How do I claim CME Credit for ABPCL Participation?

If you are participating in ABPath CertLink® (ABPCL), you can claim up to 5 CME credits per year (1.25 credits/quarter) for successful participation in 2023. For Participation in 2024 – Diplomates will be eligible for 1 CME credit per quarter. This modification for 2024 is due to the reduction in the number of CertLink questions assigned per quarter, implemented in 2023 as part of the ABPCL Quality Assurance/Quality Improvement Initiative.

The credits may be claimed from February to December during the year following your participation through the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) in collaboration with the American Board of Pathology (ABPath). You do not have to be a member of ASCP to claim these credits.

Click here to claim CME for ABPCL participation in 2022 through March 31, 2024.

Enrollment and Eligibility

How do I enroll?

New Diplomates – Diplomates will be automatically registered in ABPCL after successful completion of ABPath Primary and/or Subspecialty certification exams.

Non-Time-Limited Diplomates (Lifetime Certificate Holders)– Non-time-limited diplomates may register by contacting ABPCL Support at [email protected].

What if I am in a fellowship?

If you are completing a fellowship you must participate in ABPath CertLink and submit your two-year CC Reporting form per the CC Booklet of Information.

Can I participate in ABPCL if I do not have to maintain my certifications?

Yes! ABPCL is open to all diplomates of the ABPath. ABPath encourages diplomates who hold non-time-limited certifications to participate in ABPCL with no jeopardy to their certification. Lifetime diplomates are also able to claim CME credit for their participation.

Before You Start: Technical Requirements

How do I receive program-related emails and reminders?

To ensure that you receive the ABPath CertLink (ABPCL) emails, please add the following addresses to your spam or quarantine safe sender lists:

[email protected] 

[email protected] 


[email protected]

Be sure to keep your contact information up to date in your PATHway profile and notify ABPCL Support of any updates to your email address (ie, your ABPCL Username) by submitting a support ticket from within the ABPCL platform, or by emailing [email protected].

Can I use my cellphone or tablet to receive and answer questions?

The browser-based ABPCL platform is optimized for PC and Mac computers. If you prefer to use a tablet, the mobile app is not yet available but you may use a web browser on your tablet to access ABPCL. ABPath CertLink (ABPCL) is not approved for use on smartphones.

What browser should I use?

Any browser that is up to date. Your browser of choice may already be set up to update automatically. If not, follow the instructions below to manually update your browser.

To update Google Chrome:

  • On your computer, open Chrome.
  • At the top right, click “More”.
  • Click “Update Google Chrome”. If you don’t see this button, you’re on the latest version.
  • Click “Relaunch”.
  • Note: You can also download the latest version of Chrome from the official Google Chrome download page: https://www.google.com/chrome

To update Microsoft Edge:

  • The Microsoft Edge browser is tied to Windows 10 and consequently, so are its updates. To update the Edge browser, you need to update Windows.
  • Press the “Windows Key”, type “Check” for updates, and then press “Enter”.
  • Under the “Update Status” section, select “Check” for updates.

To update Firefox:

  • Open the Mozilla Firefox browser.
  • Click the “Open” menu button Firefox menu in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.
  • In the menu that appears, click the “Open Help Menu” Firefox help icon button at the bottom.
  • Select “About Firefox”.
  • The window that appears will automatically check for updates and show you the current version of Firefox. If an update is available, there will be an option to install the update.
  • Note: You can also download the latest version of Firefox from the official Firefox download page: https://www.mozilla.org/firefox/

To update Safari:

  • Open the Apple menu and choose App Store.
  • In the top of the window that appears, click the “Updates” button in the toolbar.
  • Find Safari and click “Update” (or Update all to do every app).
  • Note: You can also download the latest version of Safari from the official Safari download page: https://support.apple.com/safari

For other browsers:


What type of Internet connection should I have? Can I use a wireless network?

Both wired and wireless networks are supported. Testing requires a stable connection and wireless networks can introduce reliability and performance issues. The software allows test takers to easily reconnect when an error occurs, but an unreliable connection can impact testing. We recommend that before answering questions you click the Readiness option on the upper right menu to evaluate your network speed and connectivity.

At a minimum you should have the following:

  • Latency/Ping: < 25ms Download Speed: > 15 Mbps
  • Upload Speed: > 2 Mbps
  • Packet Loss: 0%

If your internet connection does not meet these requirements, we recommend that you use a different network or device. If you are using a wireless network, you can try a wired connection.

How can I check my device to verify it can deliver my assessment?

Your device should be checked to verify it is properly configured for testing. Please click the Readiness option on the upper right menu. Once the Readiness check is complete, please review the results. Please contact ABPCL Support at [email protected] if you have any questions or issues. For best results, run the Readiness check prior to answering questions.

Can workplace security settings impact my assessment?

Check with your IT department about the presence of a proxy server. While the presence of a proxy server is usually not a cause for concern, you may consider answering questions on a non-work network or computer to help ensure an optimal user experience. 

If you encounter any technical issues, please go to the Readiness option on the upper right menu to run a system check. Contact ABPCL Support if you have any questions or need further assistance.

Do I have to allow pop-ups?

Pop-up blockers may prevent external articles from opening. Additionally, the Readiness check in the upper right menu creates a pop-up window that runs a sample test. This window may be blocked by a pop-up blocker and cause an error in the system check. By configuring pop-up blockers to only allow pop-ups from the testing site, the security of the pop-up blocker software is not compromised. Simply add *.starttest.com to your pop-up blocker’s list of allowed sites.

I am concerned about my privacy. Do you use cookies?

The privacy of examinees, their personal information, and the test materials are extremely important. Session cookies are used to track the current test each examinee is taking. A session cookie is a special type of cookie that is only stored in memory and is automatically deleted when the user closes the browser. Session cookies are used to track a user’s current state during their visit and require that session cookies be enabled to use the site. These cookies are automatically removed when the browser is closed. We do not use or support cookies that in any way are used to track an individual’s Internet usage outside of our own website.

Can I test on desktops running under VMWare or other virtual machines?

No. The software will explicitly detect and block the starting of tests on virtual machines.

How do I get support?

You can request support in the platform by clicking “Support” in the upper right menu or send an email to [email protected]. If needed, an ABPath CertLink® Support Agent will follow-up with you as soon as possible. ABPath office hours are Monday thru Friday, 8 am – 4 pm Eastern Time.

Getting Sarted

What is my username and password?

Your username is the primary email address from your PATHway account at the time of registration for ABPath CertLink (ABPCL) and your temporary password, along with your Username, is sent in a welcome email on Day 1 of your first quarter of participation.

If you have set your password but have forgotten it, you can request a reset link by clicking “Reset Password” on the login page.

If you need to update your email address/Username, you may update it in the Profile section when logged into ABPCL or you may email ABPCL Support at [email protected].  

How do I design my assessment?

Your assessment includes a combination of required and elective content. The required Core content is assigned by ABPath based on the certifications that you are maintaining via the Continuing Certification (CC) Program. A list of Elective Practice Areas is provided for you to choose from to design the rest of your Assessment; you can adjust the percentage of content from each Elective Practice Area that appears in your Assessment. Once you’ve made your selections, your Assessment Design is locked for 6 months, after which you can redesign your Assessment for the next 6-month run.

What’s on my dashboard?

The Dashboard provides real-time Assessment performance and progress information.

1. Community Comparison: The comparison of your performance (percent of the questions answered correctly) to peers who have answered the same questions. Because diplomates answer questions at different times, you may see these numbers fluctuate.

2. Your Performance: Your individual Assessment performance, represented by the percent of the questions answered correctly.

Note about scoring: You will sometimes see a question that is similar to one from a previous quarter, particularly if you answered the question incorrectly; this is the concept of using clone questions in spaced repetition to promote learning and retention. For scoring purposes, we consider these two questions as a single family, with the score of the most recently answered question included in the “Your Performance” calculation. For example, if you answered the first question incorrectly and then the clone question correctly, these are counted as one question answered correctly. As a result, you may see a small discrepancy between “Your Performance” and the actual percentage calculated from your correct and incorrect answers.

3. Progress: The number of remaining questions to answer and by when, plus the percentage of questions you’ve answered for the current quarter, e.g. 40% complete.

4. Your Assessment Overview: A timeline that displays each quarter of the Assessment period, past, current and future.

How many questions do I have to answer?

Each quarter ABPCL delivers 10 new questions that include core items based on your certification(s) and elective items from your chosen Elective Practice Areas. You can also receive up to 5 clones of prior questions per quarter based on your previous performance.

Can I customize the content of my ABPCL Assessment?

Yes! ABPCL features over 30 Elective Practice Areas and a flexible assessment design so you can create an assessment that is relevant to your individual knowledge and practice.

How often do I need to answer a question?

You will be able to access your questions each quarter at the beginning of that quarter. You will receive an email or text (depending on the preference you have selected in your ABPCL profile) with a link to the questions. You must answer all questions by the quarter’s end. You may choose the rate at which you progress through each quarter’s questions. For example, you may answer one question a week, all the questions at one time, or any frequency in between.

Can I use the Internet and other educational resources to answer questions?

Yes, diplomates may use any type of educational resource, except for another person, as long as the question is answered in the allotted time.

Can I consult with my colleagues or peers when answering questions?

No, Assessment is considered an individual activity. You may not use “recalled” questions or answers, or any type of information provided by other diplomates.

Answering Questions

How do I start answering questions?

Click the “Assessment Details” button on the Progress card or click “Assessment” in the left navigation menu. You will be taken to the Assessment Details page where you can choose to answer questions by clicking “Start Assessment” for random topic delivery or clicking “Begin” in a specific Practice Area.

Can I choose which questions to answer?

On the Assessment Details page, you will see a breakdown of the content comprising your Assessment. There you can choose the Practice Area to begin answering questions. Be sure to watch the tutorial videos first! They cover features of the platform and are your set of instructions for getting started.

How much time do I have to answer a question?

Once you start a question, you will have 5 minutes to submit your answer. The amount of time remaining will be displayed.

Will my question be marked incorrect if I don’t submit an answer before the timer expires?

If you have an option selected but don’t click “Submit,” the selected option will be automatically submitted as your answer and scored. If no option is selected when the timer expires, the question will be marked incorrect.

Can I skip a question and return to it later after I’ve opened it?

No, you must answer the question within the allotted time once it is opened. An unanswered question is scored as an incorrect response.

If I answer a question incorrectly, can I try again?

If you answered incorrectly, we encourage you to click “Reattempt” to answer the question again. Although only your first attempt is scored, answering the question a second time can help reinforce your understanding of the material. In addition, any questions answered incorrectly are eligible to be redelivered to you in subsequent quarters as a clone. Answering the question clone correctly later will result in the replacement of the previous incorrect score, thus improving your performance.

How do I review questions after answering them?

You can review the Critiques and References related to all questions you have answered in the past by using the “Question History” option on the left navigation menu. There you can also submit feedback about the content of that specific question to ABPath.

What happens if I don’t complete the assessment items within the quarter or my computer times out before I complete an answer?

Any items left unanswered at the end of a quarter will be considered forfeited and marked as incorrect. Any questions that time out with no answer choice selected will also be marked as incorrect. These questions, along with others you answered incorrectly, may appear as clones in future quarters.

How do I leave feedback?
  • Please complete your Castor surveys.
  • For item-specific feedback: You can submit feedback about question content using the Feedback button at the top of the Critique page after each question. Feedback will be collected after the close of each quarter and presented to our team of experts; any necessary corrections will be made. We are not able to follow up with you individually, but please know your feedback will be carefully reviewed. Changes take about six months to be completed due to the system’s functionality. During that time, you may see a clone of that same question before any corrections have been made. You do not need to provide feedback on the clone question; it will be corrected with the original question.
  • For technical issues, general feedback about the platform, or inquiries regarding policies: Please send an email to [email protected] or create a Support Ticket by clicking on “Support” in the upper right menu within the ABPCL platform.

Tracking Progress and Receiving Feedback

How will I know if I answered a question correctly or incorrectly?

You will receive immediate feedback for each answer you submit. ABPCL will also display your cumulative performance over time, as well as your areas of strength and weakness in each Elective Practice Area.

What type of feedback will I receive regarding my performance?

After answering each question, you will receive a “Critique” which provides an explanation of why the options were correct or incorrect and indicates the correct answer. The Key Learning Objective and at least one Reference will also be provided.

What happens if I answer a question incorrectly?

You may receive a very similar question called a clone, in a future quarter. If you answer a clone correctly, this will count for your final score (i.e. it replaces your incorrect response on the initial question). You may also receive a clone if you answered a question correctly and with low confidence (i.e., guess). Spaced repetition of questions reinforces learning.

What if I don’t answer all the questions?

Any questions left unattempted at the close of a quarter are considered forfeited and will be marked as incorrect. 

What is a passing score?

You must answer 60% or greater correctly of the questions presented, either the initial question or clone.

What happens if I don’t achieve a passing score?

If you do not achieve a passing score of at least 60% at the end of the fourth year of your participation, you will receive a warning and have an additional two years to meet the CC Program Assessment Requirement.

Does the system allow for special accommodations?

ABPCL can accommodate special needs (for example, extra time for those who qualify). You must submit the same documentation required for the Primary or Subspecialty examinations to receive accommodation for special needs.

What if I have a life emergency and am unable to answer questions for a quarter?

ABPCL is designed with flexibility for emergencies and qualifying life events, with board pre-approval. Diplomates may request time off for life events (sabbatical) by creating a support ticket directly in ABPCL or emailing [email protected].

Quarters approved for sabbatical will count towards the overall participation requirement. Two sabbaticals may be taken per two-year reporting period. Questions not yet attempted in a quarter approved for sabbatical will not be marked incorrect and will not count against you.

The current quarter may be requested for sabbatical up to one day prior to the quarter’s end date. Quarters cannot be retroactively requested for sabbatical.

I have missed the quarter deadline. What does this mean for my status in the Continuing Certification Program?

ABPath CertLink is a longitudinal assessment, so your performance is considered over multiple years. Missing one quarter will not define your assessment. A diplomate would need to miss at least three quarters in a two-year period before their status in the Continuing Certification Program is adjusted to “not participating.”

How can I provide feedback?

You will be able to provide item-specific content-related feedback on each question after you submit your answer and read the Critique. The ABPath will also survey all participating diplomates at least once a year to improve ABPCL. General platform feedback and technical or policy-related questions are handled via ABPCL Support by emailing [email protected] or creating a support ticket directly in the ABPCL platform.


I see a “Page not found” message.

“Page not found” errors can result from a number of different problems. Use the following checklist to try to resolve this problem.

  • Click the Refresh button on your browser to reload the page.
  • Check if you can access other sites to make sure that your internet connection is functioning properly.
  • Make sure that your web browser and internet connection meet the minimum system requirements listed in Technical Requirements.
  • Make sure that your anti-virus, firewall, proxy and content filter systems are configured to allow inbound and outbound traffic from the starttest.com sites (you may need assistance from your IT department to check these settings).
  • Clear the web browser’s cache.

If you have checked all these possible issues and you still receive the “Page not found” error, you will need to contact ABPCL Support for further assistance by emailing [email protected].

Some of the navigation buttons are not appearing or the test is locking up.

If you have anti-virus or firewall software installed on your machine, it may be interfering with question delivery. This software may be a stand-alone application such as Norton or may be part of your browser. Most of these packages allow you to configure them to allow access to sites you approve as safe. Please refer to the help component of your anti-virus or firewall software for further assistance.

My test is slow.

Click Readiness on the upper right menu to run a system check. If you have a fast internet connection and questions are taking more than five seconds to load, verify that you do not have problems connecting to other sites. If you believe it is a problem with the testing site, please contact ABPCL Support by emailing [email protected].

I cannot find an answer to my problem. How do I get support?

You can request ABPCL Support by clicking “Support” on the ABPCL login page or within the ABPCL platform and submitting a ticket.

You can also send an email to [email protected]. An ABPath CertLink® Support Agent will follow-up with you within the ABPath office hours of Monday thru Friday, 8am – 4pm Eastern Time.